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Petrol: Smuggling, Hoarding, Fuel Pump Adjustment, Others Worsen Petrol Scarcity

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Don’t ask us about fuel crisis, DPR tells Nigerians

Faults NNPC, says PMS is not available

THE nation’s fuel scarcity seemed to have resisted all remedies as a result of increased diversion, smuggling, hoarding, pump adjustment and other sharp practices.
This is even as Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, yesterday, amplified the scarcity of premium motor spirit, otherwise known as petrol, declaring that there was no fuel in the country and, therefore, nothing to regulate.

Investigations by Vanguard, weekend, showed that these illegalities have made it impossible for the government and others, especially Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to effectively tackle the scarcity.

A visit to some border communities, including Idi Iroko in Ogun State, showed that fuel smuggling has become a way of life.

Many illegal traders, particularly the youths, were seen retailing the product in cans, drums, and tanks, and were highly being patronised by motorcyclists, taxi drivers, some private cars and others in the area.

The illegal business appeared attractive as a litre of petrol sold for between N200 and N250, depending on bargaining skills.

Besides the borders, the illegalities were also observed at both the depots and filling stations when Vanguard visited.
Contrary to NNPC’s N130 per litre directive, operators paid as high as N170 per a litre as landing cost, thus compelling many marketers to fix their pump price in excess of the N145 official regulated price in Lagos and its environs.
Vanguard also observed that many filling stations that sold the product for N145 per litre adjusted their meters in order to cheat motorists and other users of fuel.

The situation remained the same in many other cities, especially Kano, Warri, Uyo, Abuja, Niger, Nasarawa and most other states in the north.

Don’t ask us about fuel crisis, DPR tells Nigerians
Meanwhile, Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, yesterday, excused itself from the worsening fuel crisis, asking Nigerians to direct their questions and grievances to other channels.

In a text message in response to Vanguard ’s enquiries as to efforts of the DPR in addressing the fuel crisis, one of the spokespersons of the petroleum industry regulator, Mr. George Ene-Ita, who is also the Head, Corporate Services, DPR, Lagos Zonal Office, said it was not within the purview of the DPR to ensure petroleum products’ availability.
He said: “It is not DPR’s responsibility to ensure the availability of petroleum products. So why channel your query to the regulator?”

When reminded that the DPR is one of the regulators of the downstream sector and that Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had always insisted that fuel was not scarce and had blamed hoarding, diversion and sharp practices by marketers for the scarcity, Ene-Ita said: “Can you divert what is not available? Can you hoard what is not available? What is hoarding?

“Do you hoard a commodity when there is surplus? In my simple economics, you only hoard in times of extreme scarcity to make illicit gain, which is tantamount to profiteering.

“Also, if there was surplus, why sell above the cap price? If, as you suggest, there’s hike in the cap price, would Nigerians be forced to buy the commodity if there was choice? Do some investigative journalism and stop listening to peddled stories.

“Downstream sector is in crisis. What crisis? Is diesel scarce? If diesel is available to the consumer all year round, then what’s the cause? Why can’t the same principle be applied to PMS?”

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